August 12, 2012

Episode Review: LEVERAGE, "The French Connection Job"

In my write-up for "The Blue Line Job," I mentioned how I'm a fan of Eliot getting to do more than just punch out bad guys, so I mostly liked "The French Connection Job" in spite of its issues.

Toby Heath was in charge of a culinary institute that allowed trouble youths to learn the art of cooking, but that was until David Lampard (a former chef now investor) came in and raised the institute's tuition to lure people looking to be the next celebrity chef. The difference in goals led to Toby's removal from the school. Since Heath was the one who taught Eliot about the art of cooking, our favorite hitter was going to help his old mentor with or without the help of his new mentor. After a heartfelt plea to Nate, the Crew decided to help out Toby.

During the initial meeting, Heath talked about how he suspected that Lampard was involved with drugs because of his shady dealings with a group of French baddies. Nate figured that the best way to get to Lampard was to find his stash and cripple his business. In order to do so, Eliot and Hardison had to go undercover as a teaching chef and student respectively. While on the stake out, Eliot realized that Lampard was not in the drug business, but the truffle smuggling trade.

Nate called an audible and made Lampard believe that French truffles could be grown in Portland as a way to lure him away from his suppliers and give away the location of his stash. Things were going as planned until Lampard figured out what was going on and grabbed his truffles and ran. It looked like the bad guy was in the clear until he was stopped at the airport and arrested by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife department for illegally transporting the truffles, which was the Crew's plan all along.

Usually, an Eliot-centric episode focuses on his gruffness (he's been an MMA fighter, a coal miner or a ranch hand), but his artistic side's been present his Season 1's "The Wedding Job," yet it only gets a few minor callbacks, so I was happy that Chef Eliot was front and center this time around. Sure, he still beat up some random lackeys, but finding out how he got involved in cooking and what it meant to him was a nice character moment.

While I really enjoyed the Eliot moments, the rest of the episode was kind of clunky. For example, we got a subplot about Parker and the fact that she doesn't have a passion like everyone else. Normally, I would love seeing Parker be vulnerable, but it felt like those closest to her only feigned interest in what she was going through. Hardison knew that something was wrong, but he quickly got distracted when his new toy showed up. She opened up to Nate, and instead of really talking to her he changed the subject. Yes, Eliot and Sophie were able to get through to her, but Hardison and Nate's reactions felt very disingenuous and out of character.

Other Odds and Ends
  • As soon as Toby mentioned drugs, I knew it was going to end up being truffles.
  • Eliot's plea to Nate was one of their best scenes together. We need more moments like that one instead of ones where all Eliot does is hulk out.
  • I get why Sophie's running her own acting school, but it's just not working for me.
  • The character names in this episode (Toby Heath, Lampard, Rampone, Wambach, Hope) nicely underlined the fact that Portland's a soccer crazy city. Good stuff from the writers.
  • Hardison biting Rampone = comedy gold!
While I cannot say that "The French Connection Job" was one of the best Eliot episodes to date, it had enough good things going for it that made it enjoyable to watch. I just wish the whole Parker sub-plot was handled better because she too can be a source of good stories, so it's a shame that the ball was dropped this time around.


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